The business of how wines are marketed often surpasses understanding. Châteauneuf-du-Pape surely benefits among Roman Catholics as having some sound papal patronage, though in truth the wine simply takes its name from the village where Pope John XXII, during the years of the Avignon Papacy, made his summer residence. Nowadays the ruined papal palace is still there on the low hills overlooking the Rhône Valley, but the two thousand souls who reside in Châteauneuf probably have no more or less intimate a connection with the papacy than those of any other village in the region.
But there is one sacramental wine which, in terms of sheer interest, value for money and drinkability, stands head and shoulders above the rest of the bunch. Yet it remains strangely unknown in western Europe.